Studio Pierrot has brought us various hit anime series including Creamy Mami, the Magic Angel, Bleach, Naruto, and Osomatsu-san. Its founder, Yuuji Nunokawa, out of his love for the industry, founded the private school ‘Nunoani Juku’ in order to identify talents and nourish the next generation of producers and directors in film and anime. The faculty members are successful creators at the forefront of the industry, including Nunokawa himself, Isao Okada, a story consultant, and anime directors such as Noriyuki Abe, Kazunori Mizuno, Atsushi Wakabayashi, and Hajime Kamegaki.
The school is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year and has announced that they are accepting new students for the 2017 fiscal year. What does Nunokawa, the chairman of Pierrot Co., Ltd., think about the current status of the anime industry and its future prospects? What can students actually learn at ‘Nunoani Juku’? We had an interview with him to hear his thoughts!
――Currently, the anime industry has been facing changes in its distribution systems. It used to be mainly broadcast on television, then the broadcasting blocks shifted to late night shows, and now many are distributed via internet streaming. What do you think it will be like in the future?
‘Media has become more multifaceted, so I think animation will have increased opportunities, not just limited to TV programs. We couldn’t even produce anything without a sponsor before. Adopting the production committee system allowed us to create anime programs based on free ideas. Of course, I should mention that the production committee system is not without its downsides, but we had many more problems before this system: “not having enough sponsors to produce a show”, “taking too long to find sponsors and have only one month left to produce a show”, “having to accept the sponsors’ demand to advertise their products in the show”, and so on. Recently we see new tendencies of shows making big hits without high view ratings. In the 1980’s, Studio Pierrot produced Osomatsu-kun, which aired at prime time with 25-26% of the viewer ratings. But its merchandise didn’t sell as much as Osomatsu-san does. Osomatsu-san had a mere 2-3% view rating, and it has had a large economic effect that we couldn’t have imagined in the old days. I’m sure we will see such surprises in the future too.’
――What is important to creating a big hit like Osomatsu-san?
‘I’d say it’s not the organizations like production companies, but the individual talents such as creators and producers that create a big movement. Kimi no Na wa (Your Name) by Comic Wave Film and Makoto Shinkai this year is a good example of having largely influenced the industry. The production company is not a major one, but they managed to produce a significant result. I have a feeling that the key factor to the film industry is individualization of such talents.’
――It became a big hit because the individuals matched the product?
‘I think so. It’s about who did it. I realize that no projects go as planned. [laugh] But when each individual is connected to each other, something new sparks out.’
――What kind of producers do you find desirable?
‘We see an increase in talented producers who keep themselves busy with projects at the production sites, but what I have in mind is a business producer who can find a project from scratch and deliver successful presentations for the project. And on top of that, someone who can foresee the best staff specifically to realize the project. It was more important to have the ability to persuade sponsors before, but now it is definitely more important to have the ability to convey the charm of the project to others. I think that makes a big difference. To be honest, an ability to judge what sells isn’t that important for producers. Instead, they need to communicate the essence of the project to others and have the enthusiasm to select the staff members they want on their own for the project.’
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